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Books I Read in 2011

January, 2011
Getting Back to Even James J. Cramer and Cliff Mason
    Inspirational. Good ideas.
The Finkler Question Howard Jacobson
    Superior. Excellent examination of the struggles of two recently-widowed English Jews and their would-be-Jew friend, dealing with life amidst growing anti-Semitism in the face of the shameful and violent mistreatment of Palestinians by Zionist Israel.
Real Money James J. Cramer
    Learn and be inspired by a stock market guru. Buy and sell stocks right by spotting bottoms and tops. Make money.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Amy Chua
    Excellent read for every serious parent by Yale law professor and "Chinese mother" of two musically very prodigious daughters. Well-written, moving story of Ms. Chua's relentless determination to push her daughters to excellence, and her eventual surrender to her younger (13-year-old) one.
February, 2011
Stay Mad for Life, Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer) James J. Cramer and Cliff Mason
    Filled with great, practical financial advice based on Cramer's years of study and experience in the investing business.
The Spiral Staircase, My Climb Out of Darkness Karen Armstrong
    Moving. Honest. Inspiring. Ms. Armstrong, escaping a convent and overcoming temporal lobe epilepsy, finds that the study of meaning in religion and God are her true passions. "...look into your own heart, find out what distresses you, and then refrain from inflicting similar pain on other people." This is the essence of religious life. Everything else is commentary.
The Year of the Hare Arto Paasilinna
    Disenchanted journalist drops out of his old life in chase of an injured hare; becomes wandering woodsman, bear hunter. Adventurous. Imaginative. Fun.
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy, translated by Constance Garnett
    Classic. Tragic tale very well told. Poor Anna.
Nurtured by Love, the Classic Approach to Talent Education, Second Edition Shinichi Suzuki, translated by Waltraud Suzuki
    Suzuki describes the development of the philosophy of his method of music education of young children.
The Grand Design Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
    Fascinating. Inspires one to study physics. Is M-theory the complete theory of the universe? A universe that creates itself?
March, 2011
When the Killing's Done T. C. Boyle
    Boyle just keeps getting better. One of our best story-tellers ever.
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life Karen Armstrong World on Fire, How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability Amy Chua
    Cogent argument, well documented and annotated, by Yale law professor. History has taught us that free markets favor already market dominant minorities. Adding democracy is likely to be disastrous, resulting in cruel, even genocidal, attacks on those minorities from the newly empowered majority.
The Hidden Reality Brian Greene
    Mind expanding. Is ours just one of many universes?
The Investment Answer, Learn How to Manage Your Money and Protect Your Financial Future Daniel C. Goldie and Gordon S. Murray
    Good well-referenced explanation of the classic conservative approach to investing.
Confessions of a Street Addict James J. Cramer
    Quite a tale. Good read.
A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan
    Masterful, magical picture of how that Goon, time, subtly completely changes everything. A collection of uniquely charming stories woven together across the years with irresistible characters like you and me.
April, 2011
The Prize, The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power Daniel Yergin
    Awesome piece of work! Thoroughly documented with over 80 pages of references. Brilliantly written historical narrative of the essential role oil has played in the lives of we "hydrocarbon" people. Filled with anecdotes, quotes and vivid character portrayals that keep the reader unforgettably right in the midst of the action.
How the West Was Lost, Fifty Years of Economic Folly - and the Stark Choices Ahead Dambisa Moyo
    Sobering look at how U.S. policy and the behavior of its people is causing its downfall as a leading economic power in favor of other rapidly rising countries, especially China.
Look at Me Jennifer Egan
    Superior. Couldn't put it down.
Netherland Joseph O'Neill
    Well told. Thoughtfully introspective winner of 2009 PEN/Faulkner.
May, 2011
Model Home Eric Puchner
    Gem of a novel. LOL hilarious and heart wrenching sad, just like life.
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
    Interesting, well-written first novel by Dr. Verghese. Lots of accurate, detailed medical knowledge and experience evident; but overall story feels just a wee bit too fantastic.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami, trans (Japanese) by Jay Rubin
    Super story telling by a great talent. An irresistible adventure.
Take One Candle Light a Room Susan Straight
    Not bad.
The Caprices Sabina Murray
    PEN/Faulkner award winner. Nine powerful stories of repercussions of WW II in Asia. New best anti-war book.
June, 2011
Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
    Riches to rags intersects rags to riches, but nowhere happiness. Well told.
Flourish, A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being Martin E. P. Seligman
    An upgrade to his earlier "Authentic Happiness." Write down three things that went well for you today. Write why each went well. Repeat daily. See www.authentichappiness.com
The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg Deborah Eisenberg
    A glorious collection of 27 wonderful stories, artistically crafted and told in deliciously poetic prose by the inimitable Eisenberg.
After Dark Haruki Murakami, trans (Japanese) by Jay Rubin
    Short novel looks at scenes of one Tokyo night. Appealing. Imaginative.
July, 2011
Kafka on the Shore Haruki Murakami, trans (Japanese) by Philip Gabriel
    Wow! What a mind-bending trip! Extraordinarily imaginative metaphysical adventure in growing up, life, death, sex, violence, raining fish and talking with cats.
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
    Gripping true story of the murderers of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, November 1959.
The Keep Jennifer Egan
    Masterful, elegant, irresistible story within a story.
Raising Confident Happy Children, 40 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed Anthony Gunn
    Forty practical tips from psychologist Gunn.
John Adams David McCullough
    Amazing piece of work. Superbly referenced, detailed, sensitive, moving biography of one of our greatest Americans, the voice of our Declaration of Independence - the reason it got done and approved when it did. Enjoyed life-long, deep, spiritual and inspirational relationship with the amazing Abigail Adams. Best friends at the end, Adams and Tom Jefferson both died on the same day, July 4, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration!
August, 2011
Blood Dark Track, A Family History Joseph O'Neill
    Wonderful. Better than his award-winning fictional Netherland. O'Neill researches, reveals and carefully analyzes the stories around the World War Two imprisonment of both of his grandfathers.
Illustrado Miguel Syjuco
    Masterful. Clever. Funny. Man Asian Literary Prize winning first novel! Recommended reading for everyone but especially for Filipino expatriates, balikbayan, or U.S. Philippines aficionados with some Tagalog skills. Readers will wonder: Is this fiction? Who is really telling this story? Who is it really about?
Turn of Mind Alice LaPlante
    Superior first novel. Get inside the head of Jennifer White, demented retired orthopedic surgeon accused of murdering her best friend. Hard to put down.
Positive Discipline for Preschoolers Jane Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn Ann Duffy Henderson the Rain King Saul Bellow
    A deliciously imagined adventure.
iCon, Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon
    Spellbinding, unauthorized but authoritative, well-documented revelation of some of the misadventures and incredible achievements of the unique genius that is Steve Jobs.
September, 2011
Wild Child and Other Stories T. C. Boyle
    Fourteen imaginative, intriguing, satisfying short stories. Boyle can write a great short story about anything, anybody, anywhere.
October, 2011
Truman David McCullough
    Definitive masterpiece. Tells one of the greatest American stories, that of President Harry S. Truman - ordinary, small-town midwestern citizen with no college education who became president almost accidentally and, using the Bible, a deep knowledge and understanding of history and his profound personal integrity as guides, successfully faced some our country's most important decisions: whether to use the atomic bomb, creation of the United Nations, dealing with post-World War II Europe (Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan), the Berlin Airlift, recognition of Israel, formation of NATO, committing our armed forces to Korea, and helping ensure civilian control over our military. Proved that each of us is capable of greatness, and that Presidents are regular people.
Hell Robert Olen Butler
    Dead news anchor finds himself in Hell. Wondering what put him there and seeking to escape if possible, he works in Hell as a TV news anchor interviewing famous others, asking why they think they are in Hell. Turns out everyone is there. Teaming with horrors, but also full of funny, even hilarious, moments.
Beyond Time-out, From Chaos to Calm Beth A. Grosshans Ph.D. with Janet H. Burton L.C.S.W.
    Use Grosshans 5-step Ladder to be an effective parent and avoid or repair any imbalance of family power (IFP). Successful method based on lots of clinical experience. Well-explained with lots of good examples.
Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Malcolm Gladwell
    The power of first impressions. How they hurt us; and how they can be honed to help us. Very interesting read.
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
    Powerful stuff. National Book Critics Circle Award winning first novel from a Minneapolis, Minnesota, gal who grew up in North Dakota as a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians and became a gracefully artistic and deeply sensitive storyteller.
Nanjing Requiem Ha Jin
    Fine piece of work. Story of the Goddess of Mercy, Minnie Vautrin, and the last years of Jinling Women's College, Nanjing, China - all tragic victims of Japanese war atrocities in the late 1930's to early 1940's.
November, 2011
The Plague of Doves Louise Erdrich
    Powerful, superior story-telling by an artist who uses language that not only paints, but also sings and dances. A collection of beautifully interwoven stories told by irresistible characters, through which the truth behind an old family murder gradually emerges. Oh, yeah, and there's lots of great sex in it, too.
1Q84 Haruki Murakami
    Reality and fantasy are cleverly brought together in this unique, irresistible page-turner.
The Small Hotel Robert Olen Buter
    Wow! That's some powerfully moving stuff from a very gifted story-teller. Don't hesitate to say "I love you."
The Painted Drum Louise Erdrich
    Very fine story-telling.
December, 2011
Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson
    The definitive biography, the real Steve Jobs story. Fine piece of work. The journey is the reward.
The Master Butchers Singing Club Louise Erdrich
    Very superior, sensitive story telling.
The 50 Funniest American Writers Andy Borowitz
    LOL. Some seriously funny; others funny-serious.
Shadow Tag Louise Erdrich
    Powerful sad tale.
When the Emperor Was Divine Julie Otsuka
    Fine debut novel tells the story of one Japanese American family held in captivity for years and permanently, deeply scarred by the irrational, paranoid racism that flared up after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Greg Gordon MD, CFII